First: establishing some business that happened when we were all in the underdark.
Sharzad goes gem-hunting. She’s good at spotting shiny things, she’s good at determining what things are valuable, but she’s not good at obtaining them without injury and damages. In the end, she ends up with a tidy pile of shinies.
We have Nalia identify all the items we took from the library.
Record of Cyrus Tarran: (small, looks like music box). Has a spell, a modified version of magic mouth. It contains a message that will play when you open it.
A heretical account of the ascension: scroll from the archives from the archives of Mirithel: not inherently magical, a historical scroll
Emilan’s mind: the flask with the stuff inside. A sense of divination and abjuration magic. It almost gives a false positive for the spell “feeblemind.” If you drink from it, you access whatever it contains.
Reading the heretical account of the ascension: it was written by a priest of Mirithel. This person is writing events as they happen to them, but was afraid to be found out while writing. It is an account of Yleth overthrowing the other gods: raising an army from the dead until she was powerful enough to attack. This scroll has other information: before this happened, the gods lived on earth in their temples! When Yleth moved against them, they were cast out of this realm into a prison, fraying the connection between this priest and Mirithel. At the time of writing this, there was no contact from the gods (suggesting that the gods have found ways to wiggle through the cracks a bit). The account ends while describing the beginning of Yleth’s rule.
Riaeki thinks that the author may have been the high priest.
We decide to let Nalia listen to the record of Cyrus Tarran, but keep everyone else at a distance so we can help in case something goes wrong.
Ir is someone (Cyrus I guess) making a vocal record of research in his lab. He’s talking about the sliver. He can’t get a full read on all its powers and properties. It is suspended above a pit, doesn’t react bad to people approaching it. It is powerful, but does not belong to any particular school of magic (it is “creative magic”). He thinks that it wants to be whole, and if there were the other pieces it would combine. He has not found a bottom to the pit.
Listening to the accent, Nalia thinks that the original language was either dialects of common from tribes in Artakshad or else, old common from Valeq.
To try to learn more, about perhaps the location of this sliver, Nalia casts legend lore on the sliver. She hears YLETH: “you seek the heart of my trap. The place i put the knife in their backs. The place where someone strong enough might pull it out again. This is all that you seek, but when you find it, the choices you make might destroy you. And everyone. So choose wisely. Do you /really/ want the gods to walk the world again?”
A couple days later, she casts the spell again, this time on Cyrus Tarran. She sees a vast expanse of golden sand with a city: bustling, vibrant, and clearly Orcish. She sees a room in this city, richly decorated and full of books. In the room is a tall human man, young but with an air of authority, debating with some orcs that are dressed for labwork. And then, the man walking down a hallway, ducking behind a tapestry to a secret passageway leading to a private room where there is an orcish woman in colors of red and gold. They pull out scrolls and discuss. Then: zoom out and see armies of red and gold. And then, a throne room with a monarch and his throat is cut: its the Orcish woman and Cyrus is with her.
Then, back in his lab there are plans to harness the magic an artifact gives off. They city prospers and grows. And becomes Artakshad.
The gang discusses the implication of the Empire of Artakshad running on the energy of a god prison, and Sharzad is generally unhappy.’
Lilith and Sharzad remember their history. The orcish woman Nalia saw was the founder of the Empire herself: Ameretat, Bronze-Bound, Victor of the Ten Trials, Eagle-Eyed, Queen of Ravad, the Immortal, Empress of Artakhshad and Goresh.
Sharzad then tells us some news from Dahrki Angyr that she’s not shared with us. It turns out, Shabaz is actually Roshanak, the princess of the whole empire, and she is working with the rebellion. Sharzad’s sister Bahi trusts her, but Sharzad does not. We decide to send a message to Bahi telling her some of the information we have.
Nalia gets in contact with Bahi, and says we need to know why Roshanak has decided to join the rebellion as the fate of the world hangs in the balance. Bahi is annoyed that Sharzad shared this confidential information. After verifying that it is Sharzad behind the messages, Bahi explains. There is a man Kian, who is a rising star in the empire and Roshanak’s betrothed. She suspects that her father wants to give Kian the crown, and to stop this she wants to destabilize the empire, even to the point of freeing the city.
NOW back to the present… we are at Dwarven Customs.
Lilith scouts out the area and follows a guard and sees some of the security measures, and flies into one of them. She becomes entangled in a net. A dwarf reaches up and folds the net around her, and deposits her into a room. This is where all the creatures that try to get through get placed, so there are spiders and rats, and a duergar. The duergar had been trying to get past disguised as a bird. She gives Lilith some names of corrupt guards, eindride, gunvald and gunvald that might be bribeable, but there’s not much more either of them can do and soon goes back to sleep.
Meanwhile, the gang discusses what to do. Ksenja examines the architecture and manages to pick out some routes that are perhaps more dangerous, but less guarded. They discuss the respective merits of being caught in a rockfall vs. having to be in dwarven company.
Riaeki discovers that her connection to Rashul is a little stronger closer to the surface. Oruxim sits down next to her and they discuss what the surface is like, including trying to describe lightning. Oruxim reveals that they cannot enter the guarded city without being invited and we brainstorm solutions. Riaeki offers the suggestion that we knock them out and drag them past the checkpoint. Then we discuss the possibility of putting them in the handy haversack while we cross the border. Oruxim manages to fluidly climb into the haversack and it is very strange to watch. Unfortunately, Ksenja needs to breathe to this solution will not work for smuggling her past. Then Oruxim suggests casting water breathing and putting water over Ksenja’s head. Unfortunately, there’s not enough room for the two of them in the bag.
Lilith finally gets free (though she’s put in the SAME NET as BIG SPIDERS) and makes it back in time to see Riaeki pulling Oruxim out of the handy haversack.